It was February 11, 2010 when a suicide bomber entered an American military barracks in Afghanistan and was confronted by 3 dogs from the Dand Aw Patan district (in the eastern Paktia Province near the Pakistani border) that the unit had been caring for. Rufus grabbed the bomber’s leg while Sasha and a pregnant Target started barking to wake up the soldiers. The thwarted suicide bomber blew himself up before reaching the soldiers’ living quarters, and fortunately, none of the 50 military men and women inside were killed. Sadly, heroic Sasha did not survive, and the two other brave dogs were severely injured.
A few weeks later, Chris Chiasson arrived to the base and helped nurse Target and Rufus back to health as well as Target’s young puppies. Not surprisingly, the soldiers bonded with the dogs and benefited greatly from the sense of normalcy that caring for a pet could provide them in an otherwise foreign and hostile environment.
Chris hated thought of leaving the dogs behind, and in particular one of Target’s puppies he named Bear. So he and his fiancé (now wife) Anna Cannan decided to try and raise enough funds to bring seven of these dogs — “The Lucky Seven” — to the USA and into loving homes, and so they did.
Several months later, a group of Puppy Rescue Mission supporters set out to find a home for a dog named Angel, who had been at the transit facility in Afghanistan for 3 years. They reached out to Anna, who agreed that “Angel is a mission we cannot ignore.” but that rescuing her was outside the scope of Puppy Rescue Mission, which is to save soldier’s battle buddies.
The group was working with the transit facility, fundraising and locating a home for Angel when, on November 12, 2010, news broke very quickly about the erroneous killing of Target, who had been awarded Dog of the Year for her heroism in Afghanistan. Target had escaped from her yard in Arizona, picked up by local Animal Control and euthanized by mistake at a kill shelter. Her family and the army of PRM supporters were devastated. These were the dogs that had drawn them, and so many others, into the world of Puppy Rescue Mission and the inspiration for the whole rescue.
In that moment, they decided that Target’s death was the inspiration to save Angel. There was no better name a dog could have than Angel for this mission, which they were certain Target would lead them on. With this story behind them, they were unprepared for the overwhelming response and had a home for Angel within 2 days in Georgia!
But the team knew that they could not stop at just Angel. There were so many people out there that wanted to help, so they continued on, not only in Target’s memory, but also in memory of Sasha and Rufus, two original hero dogs.
When naming this mission, the arm of Puppy Rescue Mission focused on adoption vs soldier rescues, the team agreed that while Target started as the inspiration for Angel, it was appropriate to name it after the sweet dog that paid the ultimate price in Afghanistan with Target and Rufus by her side—Sasha. Sasha, Target and Rufus protected their soldiers from a suicide bomber, and Sasha did not make it and never knew life in a loving home in America. This mission would be Sasha’s legacy, and so it was called.
Today, when Puppy Rescue Mission needs to rehome a soldier dog, or find a home for a dog with no soldier, we do this in honor of Target who guided this mission, and Sasha, the ultimate guide.